February 11 – March 7: A Thin and Motley Crew

Maybe the fact that this year’s class of nice new albums has kinda oozed out like molasses is due the frustrations, chaos, depression, struggle, and occasional collapses of 2021’s second half. I dunno. Below are the platters I’ve quite enjoyed, but in order for it to even look like a two-month list I’ve incorporated archival digs (one of which is–all seven great discs of it–at the top of the heap), which I usually separate out. I’ve finally gotten smart and added hyperlinks to additional album information as I go (rather than regretting that I hadn’t later), and I’ve switched my album cover slideshow to a cumulative one. If these stunning achievements seem a bit meager to you, hey–I’m old.


Both those box sets are well worth the time one needs to spend: #1, unreleased examples of the stunning, versatile genius of Black Arts Group veteran composer / player / arranger Hemphill, #2, the luscious fruit of a lifetime of plumbing and glorying in the depths of American song by Stampfel.

Two classical works? Yes, two classical works. It’s not that I’m desperate; it just so happens that new interpretations of justly famous works of my favorite traditional classical composer (Messiaen) and my favorite experimental classical performer (Eastman) have showed up together.

Strut Records’ ongoing resuscitation of the Black Fire label’s catalog continues to excite, enlighten, and inspire me–plus it nicely dovetails with the moment.

  1. Julius Hemphill: The Boyé Multinational Crusade for Harmony
  2. JuJu: Live at 131 Prince Street
  3. Peter Stampfel: Peter Stampfel’s 20th Century in 100 Songs
  4. Neil Young and Crazy Horse: Down in the Rust Bucket
  5. Julien Baker: Little Oblivions
  6. Various Artists: Allen Ginsberg’s The Fall of America–A 50th Anniversary Musical Tribute
  7. Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom
  8. Nermin Niazi: Disco Se Aagay
  9. Various Artists: Indaba Is
  10. Wau Wau Collectif: Yaral Sa Doom
  11. Madlib: Sound Ancestors
  12. Byard Lancaster: My Pure Joy
  13. Jazmine Sullivan: Heaux Tales
  14. Founders: Songs for the End of Time
  15. Archie Shepp and Jason Moran: Let My People Go
  16. Joe Lovano, Marilyn Crispell, and Carmen Castaldi: Garden of Expression
  17. Yasmin Williams: Urban Driftwood
  18. Corey Ledet: Corey Ledet Zydeco
  19. Ensemble 0: Performs Julius Eastman’s Femenine
  20. Thumbscrew: Never is Enough
  21. Steve Earle: JT (late addition! FORGOT IT….)

Good to My Earhole, February 5 – February 14:Walking the Negro Streets at Dawn

Highlights of my last week’s listenin’, in the truck cab and elsewhere, rated on a spin-the-bottle 10-point scale (w/a special touch). Also, I am deliberately diggin’ out dustbin doozies; please recall the Roger Price maxim, “If everyone doesn’t want it, nobody gets it!”:

ARE YOU FROM DIXIE: GREAT COUNTRY BROTHER TEAMS OF THE 1930S – 15 – Having trouble finding your way into old-timey music, seekers? Do it like I accidentally did 28 years ago, and dig up this can’t-stop-won’t-stop RCA comp. Across a single disc, the choices meet Harry Smith’s ANTHOLOGY even-up: you jake-walk on bad whiskey, chuckle along with your salty dog, get a line and go fer crawdads, stomp away an intoxicated rat, shoulder a nine-pound hammer, try to get your baby out of jail, and cozy up to someone ELSE from Dixie. It’s magic. Also: it needs a reissue. Extra bait: the Monroe Brothers, playing at punk tempos, inventing bluegrass as they go.

Catheters/STATIC DELUSIONS AND STONE-STILL DAYS – 9 – Best Stooges album since RAW POWER, not sure it’s been topped since its ’02 release, probably because these kids weren’t trying. Critically, only Greil Marcus gave a shit, and he was correct.

Julius Hemphill/JULIUS HEMPHILL PLAYS THE MUSIC OF ALLEN LOWE – 8.8 – I have sung the praises of Allen Lowe here multiple times, and if I ain’t convinced you yet, let the long-gone-but-not-forgotten sax master and arranging ace Mr. Hemphill do the honors. The record saunters through more rhythmic moves than has a cat on an easy chair (stole that from Roy Blount, Jr.), and closes up shop with the funky, greasy “Sleepless,” which justifies its title. (Note: there’s no tracks available via YouTube, so enjoy Hemphill’s amazing DOGON A. D. as a teaser. AND: grab the release from Bandcamp here, cheap!)

Mudboy and the Neutrons/NEGRO STREETS AT DAWN – 8.7 – Few but the likes of ‪#‎JimDickinson‬ (“The Pope of ‪#‎Memphis‬ Music”) could get away with the title reference/conceit, because he could put together the players. Chuck Berry-nugget opener, Sid Selvidge-crooned Southern stroke, surrender to capitalism loaded with subversive sermon lead off–sometimes I think they coulda topped ZZ Top if they’d cared.

Shaver/TRAMP ON YOUR STREET – 8.5 – Natural-born honky-tonk chronicler with hot-shit guitarist son as sidekick–some might call it schtick, but it’s by-God real. “Old Chunk of Coal,” “The Hottest Thing In Town,” and “Georgia on a Fast Train” are already playing a floor below Leonard Cohen’s in The Tower of Song. And closer to the ground floor is better.

Sun Ra/LANQUIDITY – 9 – Already in possession of 20+ “Sun One” records, I thought I’d heard all I needed. This late ’70s release almost goes disco–almost–without compromising the vision that kept a team of jazz aces together through five decades. Blaxploitation music with a more exalted vision–I dunno: YOU listen and YOU describe it. You will be better for it, whatever the outcome.